After I finally read Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng in excitement for the Hulu series, I was recommended her other book, Everything I Never Told You, and many people told me that I would like it even more. Well, they were wrong, but it was an interesting book. I ended up listening to it on audio, and while Little Fires Everywhere was definitely more by speed, I think people who like complicated family stories, back and forth in time POVs, and all that jazz will enjoy this book.
Everything I Never Told You begins with the death of a girl, but she comes back to life throughout as the story as we learn what led to her being found at the bottom of the local lake and the family dynamics that surrounded it all. Being biracial, especially part Asian, in Ohio in the 70s isn’t easy, and the Lee family must navigate racism, discriminaion, their own expectations, and the struggles of marriage and raising a family. There’s Marilyn, the future doctor turned stay-at-home mom who is both grappling with the life she never got to live and the loss of her daughter. There’s James, a professor who has always struggled as an Asian American in Ohio, who is trying to balance his own grief with the perils of marriage and fatherhood.Their children, Nathan and Hannah, have complicated lives and feelings of their own, dealing with their parents issues, school, the loss of their sister, and the secrets they hold that may help everyone understand what happened to Lydia. There’s college admissions drama, flashbacks, cheating, racism, teenage drama galore, bad boys, and all that jazz.
Overall, this was a fine book. Lydia’s death is no surprise–it’s the opening line of the book, but there’s a lot of back and forth through time in the novel, and maybe because I was listening on audio, but it was a little hard to follow.Obviously, I knew anything Lydia was doing was in the past because she was dead, and the parents timelines were pretty clear, but with the other kids, Hannah and Nathan, it was a little hard to follow what they were doing in each timeline related to their own goings-on. I also wasn’t that SURPRISED by anything that happened in the book, and I think Little Fires Everywhere was much more compelling. Sure, this was an interesting book, and I really appreciate Ng’s writing, but this was a fine three star read for me. If you like this kind of book, and literary fiction in general, you’ll enjoy this, but if you want twists and big drama, it’s not really here.